The Genealogy of the Sheldon and Watson Families
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Sarah Offley

Female 1609 - 1657  (48 years)

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  • Name Sarah Offley 
    Christened Apr 1609  St. Benet Gracechurch, London, Middlesex, England Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Born 16 Apr 1609 
    Gender Female 
    Died Aug 1657 
    Person ID P-108077167  SheldonTurner
    Last Modified 14 Feb 2011 

    Father Robert Offley,   b. 1564,   d. Yes, date unknown 
    Relationship Natural 
    Mother Ann Osborne,   d. Yes, date unknown 
    Relationship Natural 
    Family ID F26  Group Sheet

    Family 1 Adam Thoroughgood,   b. 15 Jul 1604, Grimston, Norfolk, England Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 27 Apr 1640, Elizabeth City, VA Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age 35 years) 
    Married 18 Jul 1627  St. Anne's, Blackfriars, London, England Find all individuals with events at this location 
    +1. Ann (Chandler) Thoroughgood,   b. 1630,   d. 1697  (Age 67 years)
     2. Sarah Thoroughgood,   b. 1631,   d. 9 Oct 1658, Charles Co., MD Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age 27 years)
     3. Elizabeth Thoroughgood,   b. 1633,   d. Yes, date unknown
     4. Adam Thoroughgood,   b. 1638,   d. Yes, date unknown
    Family ID F24  Group Sheet

    Family 2 John Gookin,   b. 1607, England Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 2 Nov 1643, Northampton, Virginia. Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age 36 years) 
    Married 1641  Princess Anne, Virginia. Find all individuals with events at this location  [1
    Family ID F235  Group Sheet

    Family 3 Francis YEARDLEY,   b. 1605, England Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. Yes, date unknown 
    Married 1644  Northampton, Virginia. Find all individuals with events at this location  [1
    Family ID F253  Group Sheet

  • Notes 
    • Sarah Offley married... 1) Capt. Adam Thoroughgood
      2) Capt. John Gookin
      3) Col. Francis Yeardley

      When she died she claimed all three husbands. Her epitaph reads
      "Here lieth ye body of Capt. John Gookin and also ye body of Mrs
      Sarah Yeardley, who was wife to Capt Adam Thoroughgood first, Capt
      John Gookin and Col Francis Yeardley who deceased Aug 1657
      (Research):Sarah Offley: Ancestress of all Tarvins

      Beautiful and high-spririted, Sarah Offley Thorowgood also had a backbone of steel and an indomitable will. She was the envy of every woman in the colony and a match for any man. She was ambitious, capable, proud and self-righteous as other members of her family and her husband Adam Thorowgood. Other than the Indian Princess Pocahontas, she was the most interesting and colorful woman in Virginia until her death in 1657.
      Sarah was eighteen when she came to America in 1628. (note if 18 in 1628 and died in 1657 means she was 48 when she died) During her first 12 years in her new country, she had children in rapid succession. Elizabeth was born in 1628, Anne in 1630, and by 1639 she had also given birth to Sarah and Adam Jr., and at least two children who had died. (The daughter Anne became the grandmother of Elizabeth Dent who married Richard Tarvin, thus the Tarvin-Thoroughgood connection for all Tarvin descendants). The eldest was only ten or eleven at the time of Adam's early death. During Adam's lifetime, Sarah remained in the background busily caring for her children, shouldering household responsibilities, and helping her husband establish a huge plantation in the wilderness. Adam undoubtedly recognized his wife's strength and capabilities because his will entrusted her with the guardianship of their children and their inheritances, which was a lot of property for a young woman living in a semi -wilderness with four small children to manage alone.
      however, Sarah ha learned a lot from her husband about managing property and protecting the rights and good name of her family. She left as long a trail of court cases as he did. Even though Adam's bequests to her in his will seemed most generous, she was not satisfied and requested the court reserve a lot more household items for her use. The requests reveal how well Sarah's bedchamber was furnished, and the silver in her cupboard. We know she set her table with a tablecloth, napkins, knives, forks, and spoons. At that time forks were a novelty even in England, Sarah's mention of silver spoons is doubtless the first reference in America to silver as a wedding present. Any kind of silver was a rarity, both because of its price, and the fact that there was a law against the importation to America. The two overseers of Adam's estate, knew Sarah well, and were reluctant to tangle with her in any administration of the will, so she had gained command. She also firmly established her loyalty to her dead husband. at some time later the family changed the spelling of their name to Thoroughgood.
      Sarah was not a woman to stay unmarried long. Within a year, she married John Gookin, a son of a wealthy landowner from Newport News. John Gookin was immediately popular, becoming captain in the militia, then a colonel, a vestryman and a justice. After their marriage, he moved inot Sarah's house, and the couple had one child, Mary. It was a happy marriage, but a short one. Within two years on 2 November 1643, John Gookin died. Sarah was again alone with 5 young children to bring up, but her spirit was not diminished. Since 1640, the court had been attempting to get an accurate accounting from Sarah, of the cattle left to his children by Adam Thorowgood. then the Commissioners of Lower Norfolk County, who were obviously afraid of Sarah, asked her politely but unsuccessfully on ten different occasions to render an account of the cattle of the children. finally they sent the under sheriff to levy a fine of 500 lbs of tobacco on her. She responded with a letter in which she flatly refused to pay a fine or to appear in court, and insisted that was unheard of for a mother to be asked to account for the property of her own children. The following year, the next sheriff lacked the nerve to press the matter further, and before anyone else dared face up to her, Francis Yeardley had married her and upon his promise to render the account, the court, with relief, repealed the 500 lb fine. Francis Yeardley was a leader of the Cromwellian party in Virginia. he lived in Northhampton County, then Lower Norfolk county, where he received a 590 acre grant, was Justice in 1651 and 1652, and a Burgess in 1653.
      Sarah undoubtedly had a fine wardrobe, probably including clothes made of fine broadcloth, silk and woolens. She would have had her choice of materials traded by her brother John Offley. She loved expensive jewelry and apparently had a good bit of it. Her will directed that her best "diamond necklace and jewel" should be sent to England and be sold. She also acquired valuable fine jewelry from Mrs. Susanna Mosely, whose family had fallen on hard times and had great need for cattle. Mrs. Mosely explained in a letter, that she had rather Mrs. Yeardley would wear them than "any other gentlewoman in the country."
      The original home built by Adam and Sarah by 1635 and called "The Mansion" and "The Manor House Plantation" was willed to Sarah during her lifetime. She lived there with each of her subsequent husbands, until it burned about 1650. She built another house nearby, also called "The Manor House Plantation" where she lived until her death. Col. Yeardley died in 1655. Sarah Died in August 1657 after a full and adventurous life. Her will left no doubt that of her three husbands, she loved John Gookin best. By her last will and testament,Mistress Yeardley late deceased, did order that her best diamond necklace and jewel be sent to England to purchase six diamond rings and two black tombstones to be sent to Virginia the next shipping. The tombstones were for herself and John Gookin, and she ordered that she be buried beside him; however, she claimed all three husbands on her tombstone.

  • Sources 
    1. End Marriage: Widowed